Published: Wed, December 11, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Hong Kong protests mark 6-month mark with massive rally

Hong Kong protests mark 6-month mark with massive rally

Hong Kong has enjoyed relative calm since local elections on November 24 delivered an overwhelming victory to pro-democracy candidates.

The rally received rare police permission and came two weeks after pro-establishment parties got a drubbing in local elections, shattering government claims that a "silent majority" opposed the protests.

"Stand with Hong Kong!" echoed as demonstrators, from students to professionals and the elderly, marched from Victoria Park in the bustling shopping district towards the financial area.

The protests were largely peaceful throughout the afternoon, though at night tensions emerged between riot police and some radical demonstrators.

It is the first Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) march to receive police approval since July 21 - with police routinely banning marches in the past four months, and only allowing stationary rallies.

The protests in Hong Kong have garnered global attention and have been marked by images of violent clashes between demonstrators and police. Of those, 30% said they would be forced to lay off staff in the next six months - losing 10% of employees on average, or more than 5,600 people in total.

Police said 11 people were arrested in raids ahead of the rally and that a handgun was seized.

One of the protesters' main demands is to elect Hong Kong's chief executive by universal suffrage, instead of through the current, Beijing-controlled selection process.

Organisers told local media Ming Pao that they think the vote for local district councils last month was unfair and called for actions to rebut the protesters' plans for a general strike on Monday.

The protests, which have been drawing massive crowds since June following a contentious proposed extradition law that has been pulled by the government, have mutated into a movement that seeks to improve the democratic mechanisms that govern Hong Kong and safeguard - or expand - the region's partial autonomy from Beijing.

"There is an ethic of solidarity ... that encourages people to stay united", says Francis Lee, director of the School of Journalism at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, one of a team of scholars surveying public opinion on the protests.

The organizers of the large-scale demonstrations which kicked off Hong Kong's months-long protest movement earlier this year are taking to the streets again Sunday, in a bid to maintain pressure on the city's government following the success of pro-democracy groups at recent elections. "I am urging the protesters today to pay extra attention to their surroundings and leave the scene and report to the police if there are signs of danger". "Now it's up to Carrie Lam to give a response". "Our rally today is to gather everyone in Hong Kong to defend our city, as well as [to advance] the worldwide human rights movement". The group said it had timed their march for worldwide Human Rights Day on December 10. She lashed out at "accusations" that her government is eroding people's freedom, calling them "unsubstantiated".

Over the weekend, the heads of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong were denied entry to Macau and sent back, with no explanation given.

Emphasizing that Hong Kong affairs are China's internal affairs and brook no external interference, the spokesperson urged US diplomats in Hong Kong to abide by worldwide law, including the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, and basic norms governing global relations, follow the Basic Law and other HKSAR legislation, fulfill their duties to facilitate US-Hong Kong economic and cultural cooperation, and immediately stop meddling with Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs as a whole.

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